I have always been a reader. I can not remember a time that I didn't love books and magazines. When I was little, my grandmother always subscribed to magazines like Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Ebony and Jet. I spent countless hours flipping through those magazines as a child. My grandmother got a kick out of me sitting in her living room reading the Los Angeles Times newspaper when I was about 9 years old. When I was totally engrossed in a book and it was time for bed, I would stay up and read by the light in the hallway, ruining my eyesight but worth it all to see what happened to Laura Ingalls on that prairie.
When I was pregnant with my son, I prayed that he would enjoy reading as much as I did. I started reading to him when he was in my belly. When he was born, I read to him all the time. I made sure that his bookshelves were filled with books and whenever I found books that I thought he would like, even if they were for older children, I would buy them.
My mother is an educator and she always talked about the importance of reading, especially to African American males. The following is an excerpt from the article Are schools failing black boys? by Celeste Fremon & Stephaine Renfrow Hamilton:
"A 1990 study of more than 105,000 students in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, where African Americans made up about 65 percent of the enrollment, showed that black male pupils performed comparably to boys and girls of all races on first- and second-grade standardized math and reading test. But by fourth grade, African American boys experienced a sharp decline in their scores. More recent national studies have shown similar findings: In 1994, fourth-grade reading scores of African American boys lagged behind those of all other groups at the same grade level, according to the National Center for Education Statistics."
Knowing this has made me want to ensure that my son began reading at an early age. I tried doing the sight word flash cards at 4 and TJ wasn't interested in the least, but I made sure that I continued to read to him all the time. By the time he went to kindergarten, he picked up his sight words quickly and he became a reader but he wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I had hoped he would be. I soon discovered that it was WHAT he read that made him want to read. Instead of me going to the bookstore alone to find books for him, we began to go together so that he could pick out books that he wanted to read. This made all the difference in the world.
Now that he is 9 years old, we often have fights in the bookstore about the books that he wants to read. I have no problem with him reading "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" or "Big Nate" series but we argue about the "Pokemon" and "The Legend of Zelda" Manga books that he loves to read. At the end of the trip, I have usually gave into one Manga book, IF he get one chapter book. At the end of the day, what really matters is that he is reading and I couldn't be happier about that!